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A Plan for Afghanistan

Mark Urban | 18:37 UK time, Thursday, 19 February 2009

US troops in in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan
In all the casting around for a new strategic direction in Afghanistan, the country's presidential elections, due this August, represent the elephant in the room. Within the Obama administration, the internal debate rages about whether Afghan president Hamid Karzai is worthy of continued American support.

If the US and its Nato allies go with 'Plan A', they run the risk of widespread Taleban disruption of voting, leading to a turn out so poor that the election may be invalidated or a hardening of ethnic divisions within the country. If they delay the elections either for security reasons or because they are looking for a better candidate to back than Mr Karzai, there are obvious risks too.

Some, like Conservative MP Adam Holloway, favour backing an Afghan political process that would delay elections while a national unity government was formed to include Taleban and other hardline opponents of Mr Karzai. Talks between Afghan political factions were held in Dubai in December towards this end. Elections, their argument goes, might then go ahead in 2010 throughout the country, embracing all political forces. Under this process a timetable would also be set for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

While the Obama administration might be open to new approaches, it's not yet clear it would back a process that both allowed the Taleban a share of power and - theoretically at least - set the course for the removal of foreign forces. It is apparent though from the president's recent pronouncements and those of his officials that their prime objective is denying Afghanistan as a sanctuary to international terrorism. Bold talk of 'freedom and democracy' features less now than it did with the Bush White House, and instead the US defence secretary talks about more realistic goals that might be achieved in a 3-5 year timescale.

What is apparent then is that all kinds of options are being opened up by Washington: to carry on with Plan A; to postpone elections and empower the Karzai government to rule with 'strong man' emergency powers; to postpone while dumping Karzai in favour of a national unity government. The permutations are bewildering. What is clear though is that the calendar logic of troop rotations and the elections may well force Washington to show its hand before a fully formed political strategy (along the lines of the Dubai dialogue among Afghan exile groups) is in place.

Here's my piece from Wednesday on strategy in Afghanistan:

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    isn't afghanistan now just 'the battleground' for militants in Pakistan?

    unless the supply lines from pakistan are stopped its always a lost war? they can wait it out , play the long game, whereas we can't.

    we pay our landowner/farmers 4 billion a year. If we didn't maybe they too would be growing drugs?

  • Comment number 2.

    will iran feel like helping if the telegraph report is true?

    ...Israel has launched a covert war against Iran as an alternative to direct military strikes against Tehran's nuclear programme, US intelligence sources have revealed.

    It is using hitmen, sabotage, front companies and double agents to disrupt the regime's illicit weapons project, the experts say....

  • Comment number 3.

    THE KARZAI - BROWN IDENTITY

    I was forcibly struck by Karzai's theatrical declaration that all Afghanistan's troubles arise from a lack of co-ordination between the members of the 'Coaliton of the Misguided'. How similar to Brown's shrill pleas that we accept the World-Age of Irresponsibility was the cause of all Britain's monetary woes, and not the bursting of Prudence Brown's 'notme.gov' dot com bubble.

    (My thanks to whichever blogger supplied 'notme.gov')

  • Comment number 4.

    Some things are just out of our control, and this evidently is one thing. We may stop drugs from flowing the way it used to be, but I think as long as there are wars, three will be drugs.


    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]Internet Marketing Specialist Denver

  • Comment number 5.


    Plan Z

    Apologise to the people of Afghanistan.
    Give them one year's notice of total withdrawal.
    Pay them reparations.
    Let them elect whoever they want.
    Let them determine their own structure.
    Subsidise their economy with whatever our current military spend is for the next 5 years.
    Continue to pay widows pensions.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Mark Urban, I have just opened the newspaper on your article about your Great Uncle. My Great Uncle was also killed at the 2nd battle of Gaza and is buried there. I have so much information about him (including a hand drawn sketchy map of where his headstone is) and so many photographs. He was with the Royal Berkshire Yeomanry. I always feel incredibly sad when I think about him as I knew his sister (my Great Granny) very well. If you go back to Gaza will you search out his grave for me? Although I travel frequently to The Middle East I have never been to Gaza. Clare Shepherd [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 7.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]I am very interested in Claire's comment on Gaza. Many brave Berkshire Yeoman died on 19th April 1917.
    As assistant curator of the Berkshire Yeomanry Musuem, I would be very interested in sharing information and photographs of that time with her.

    We are based at the TA Centre in Bolton Road, Windsor. I can be contacted on 07976 964768.

    Andrew French

  • Comment number 8.

    #5
    Richard_SM,

    I do not think anybody else will find your plan Z even remotely possible. I for exmaple do not agree with the people of Afghanistan 'electing' the Taleban and choosing their own structure, which will basically mean a return to Medieval-time mentaliyty of oppression of women, stoning to death for transgressions such as being raped or converting to another religion. Most of all, I do not agree with your proposal to give money to such a regime, which will use them to fund a jihad for the establishment of a world-wide halifat. The NATO forces are in Afghanistan precisely because the rest of the world does not want practces such as stoning to death to be continued, even though you might think that being traditional is a sufficient excuse for them.

  • Comment number 9.

    shedlily/Clare
    thanks for your comment and info about your own great uncle. The Commonwealth War Graves Commissions website CWGC.ORG will give you the exact location of his grave. Also they will have the gardeners take a picture of it for you if you want. I will look in for him if I am there in the near future.
    MU

  • Comment number 10.

    The problems we face today in Afghanistan relate to the lack of promised investment in the infrastructure and regional development for the people who live in poverty, which sadly encompasses the majority of the population. Military might alone will not defeat the Taliban and I thought that our Military and Politicians had learned some lessons from the mistakes of the Soviet Army of occupation in the 1980's!
    If we had seriously invested in the redevelopment of the country after the defeat of the Taliban then we would be dealing with people who would be far less willing to take the money of the Taliban.

  • Comment number 11.

    SO WHATS THE PLAN STAN?

    This is not the first time the (UK) has been involved in combat operations in the Islamic Crescent, so this is nothing that the military of the (UK) does not have maps and prior military history concerning the region.

    But the question must be asked by each tax paying citizen of the (UK), WHAT IS THE EXIT STRATEGY? What is the cost projected per annum, and the projected time of military involvement, whats the projected cost post military involvement, and then decide is it all worth it.

    SOME THINGS ARE NOT WORTH DYING FOR!

    AUGUST 20th is comming soon, demand answers from YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS, and not canned, talking points from the American Empire.

  • Comment number 12.

    OBAMA £ 54.5 BILLLION POUNDS FOR WAR!

    The Dollar should have been replaced as the international reserve currency, the American Empire continues the flagrant double standard set by the American Empires Federal Reserve which is not bound to the harsh term’s set the (IMF) International Monetary Fund, and are not forbidden to print more cash to support internal demand or WARS, thereby, (fueling inflation and undermine a country's financial stability) as the American Empires Federal Reserve does not answer to the international community and continues to print billion’s to stimulate the American Empires failing kick start of its economy and now funding of its WARS. Even though these steps (increase inflation) not only within in the American Empire, but with the dollar as the base currency devalues other countries assets holding currencies denominated in American Empire, dollars, economies to collapse, pulling the inflationary cycle higher on other national currencies, caused by American Empire central banks reserves, and Federal Reserve System.

  • Comment number 13.

    CENTRAL ASIAN PIPELINE

    (Af-Pak) War the reason

    The entire reason why the “American Empire” is in Afghanistan has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with natural resources, in this case (NG) natural gas from Turkmenistan which is rich in hydrocarbons and the building of the “Central Asian Pipeline” system transporting (NG) across Afghanistan to the ports of Pakistan, Karachi, and round the globe in (LG) Liquid Gas from, to waiting markets, with a branch line to supply the needs of India.

    The Russian Federation Support

    Now, the “American Empire” believes that the Russian Federation is willing to provide assistance in the (Af-Pak) War against Islam due to its fear of the Islamic threat posed to its boarders, and that could not be farther from the truth. The real reason is than in the end The Russian Federation knows that the “American Empire” can never hope to win, as it will be generations of warfare, and will bring down the “American Empire” economically, and be its second Vietnam, placing Turkmenistan back under the entire Sphere of the Russian Federation along with the “Central Asian Pipeline”. The Russian Federation is in a win/win situation, the “American Empire” leaves it obtains the “Central Asian Pipeline”, the “American Empire” stays and fights, it will lose, both militarily and economically, and the Russian Federation still wins. The losers will be those with large case reserves of “American Empire” Treasure Bill’s and Dollars, worthless pieces of paper.

  • Comment number 14.

    SELLING THE (AF-PAK) WAR!

    Buying the (20th) August Election

    Now, what we have here are a lot of Pentagon Propagandist from the American Empire selling the (Af-Pak) War, and the (UK) United Kingdom, and the elections of (20th) August are the target, without British Armed Forces the (Af-Pak) War is a non-starter, the American Empire has to pull out every stop, and pay any price to purchase the election and make no mistake about that, without the (UK) purchased support, it remains the American Empires War on Islam.

    CENTRAL ASIAN PIPELINE

    (Af-Pak) War the reason

    The entire reason why the “American Empire” is in Afghanistan has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with natural resources, in this case (NG) natural gas from Turkmenistan which is rich in hydrocarbons and the building of the “Central Asian Pipeline” system transporting (NG) across Afghanistan to the ports of Pakistan, Karachi, and round the globe in (LG) Liquid Gas from, to waiting markets, with a branch line to supply the needs of India.

    The Russian Federation Support

    Now, the “American Empire” believes that the Russian Federation is willing to provide assistance in the (Af-Pak) War against Islam due to its fear of the Islamic threat posed to its boarders, and that could not be farther from the truth. The real reason is than in the end The Russian Federation knows that the “American Empire” can never hope to win, as it will be generations of warfare, and will bring down the “American Empire” economically, and be its second Vietnam, placing Turkmenistan back under the entire Sphere of the Russian Federation along with the “Central Asian Pipeline”. The Russian Federation is in a win/win situation, the “American Empire” leaves it obtains the “Central Asian Pipeline”, the “American Empire” stays and fights, it will lose, both militarily and economically, and the Russian Federation still wins. The losers will be those with large case reserves of “American Empire” Treasure Bill’s and Dollars, worthless pieces of paper.

    King David H. Betray “US”

    King David H. Betray “US”, the Butcher of Islam, and his staff have been referred to as the cream of the crop do to each having a (PhD.), meaning they when to college all the way and are able to write a thesis paper, good for them, all it means is they know how to PILED HIGH AND DEEP, they are book warriors. Now, the warriors they are coming up against are not book worm warriors they are intuitive warriors, they many never have learned how to read a book, and learned the Koran by Wrote, but they know their lands and they know their enemy, they know how he thinks, they know before they act what that action will be, then take their enemy to their battle ground and fight them on their terms. One of the greatest warriors of all history led (2) two American Armies with college educated officers around and around, was a College of Hard Knocks, Chief of the Chiricahua tribe of the Apache Nation GERONIMO. King David H. Betray US will fight by the book, More Money, More Time, More Troops, and Mission Creep, and his enemy will survive off the terrain, take their time, use fewer Islamic Freedom Fighters apply superior tactics, while adjusting to the mission, with patience, fortitude, love of their land, trust in their leaders, and faith in their God, and when they enter Paradise yet another Islamic Freedom Fighter will step up to take their place, day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade, never ending., Bet on it!

 

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